113. Murphy Peterson Wildlife Drive Water Management

Refuges are managed to provide the right habitats for different species of wildlife at just the right times of year. One way we manage is to manipulate water levels to facilitate plant growth. Alligator River refuge relies on portable and stationary pumps to move water. These pumps allows water to be pumped out of the fields, so that the naturally occurring moist soil vegetation can grow in time for the fall migrations. Moist soil management units were established in those areas where farming was most difficult because of woody debris, deep organic soils, wetness, or combinations of these factors. Water management in the moist soil units promotes optimum growth conditions for vegetation that is adapted to growing in a moist environment, the kind of environment that produces good waterfowl food. This water management entails a slow drawdown from late January through early March. This slow drawdown is necessary to avoid flushing nutrients and coliform bacteria from the farm fields. Each unit is dried out during the spring and early summer to allow treatments such as burning, disking, and planting. Once the treatments are complete, moist soil conditions are maintained during the remainder of the summer. In early fall, the fields in each unit are gradually flooded. Water management is also used during wildfires in order to move water to assist with fire suppression.